How we used SEO & programming to get 1M monthly traffic!

SEO can be an effort-intensive process. But, programming + SEO can quickly create 1000s of SEO-optimized pages! Here's all you need to know about programmatic SEO.

25th May 2022
5 min read

In a nutshell

Most SEO strategies are extremely effort-intensive, like writing blogs. But, there is an easier way to create thousands of pages automatically. How?

Well, the Answer is => SEO + Programming => Programmatic SEO!

Programmatic SEO is a strategy where you use the data you have, to create hundreds of pages automatically.

The goal with these automated pages is simple - optimize them as you would do for a blog so they organically rank for the target Google search query!

There are 2 major components to Programmatic SEO: The Data — this is the data that is manually populated or sourced from different places The Automated Pages — these pages are generated using the main data

At Remote Tools, we have implemented Programmatic SEO to create Product, Category & Alternative pages. Here's how it works!

So, Remote Tools (RT) is basically a "remote tools" database. Product/startup creators submit their products to RT & once reviewed they are uploaded on their product pages.

Now every product is assigned to a category. For example, productivity, team chats, project development, etc. Each category has a category page that has a list of all products under that category.

Plus, each product has an alternative page, that lists all the other products in that category. These category and alternative pages are automatically created using the data sourced from the creators. And, they rank for many keywords!

We absolutely love SEO at buildd!

"Why", you ask? You see, Google gets over 63,000 searches every second. That's 5.6 billion queries in a day!

Now, imagine even a small fraction of that traffic coming your way. That constant stream of users can do wonders for your startup.

Sadly, most SEO tactics are super effort-intensive. Take the example of blogs - they work brilliantly for SEO but creating 100s of unique pieces of quality content can be difficult.

So, how do you scale your SEO efforts then?

Well, the key lies in combining programming and SEO, to create 100s or even 1000s of SEO optimised pages automatically for you!

I know this sounds exciting and almost unreal. But, we have first-hand experience of doing this while scaling our startup's (Remote Tools) traffic to 1M every month!

So, read on to know more about this KILLER SEO strategy!

Firstly, what is Remote Tools?

Remote Tools, or RT for short, is a platform where you discover tools used for remote working.

On RT, startups can directly submit the details of their product via a simple form. And after a short review, their tool gets published on the website.

Given the diverse set of tools we receive, we organize these tools under different categories. This includes categories like productivity, remote hiring, product management, virtual office, etc.

Now, in a previous article, we explained how we used blogs to get close to a million monthly visitors on Remote Tools.

But, there is another strategy that has helped us drive more high-value traffic than our blogs. It's called "Programmatic SEO".

So, how do we use Programmatic SEO at Remote Tools?

Since Remote Tools is a tools repository, our target audience is naturally users who are looking for remote working tools online.

Now, to get these users we first need to understand what they are searching on Google. In our research, we came across two types of keywords with distinct search intent.

The first intent is to "explore" while the second is to "compare". Based, on these 2 intent types we have created 2 sets of pages — /category and /alternatives.

  1. Explore = Category Page ➝ "virtual office software", "code collaboration tools", "standup tools", "whiteboarding tools", "document collaboration tools", etc.
  2. Compare = Alternatives Page ➝ "doodle alternative", "total alternative", "zoho mail alternative", "loom alternative", "product hunt alternative", etc.

So, users performing a general exploration search for say, virtual office software tools will come across the category page. While users who are looking for an alternative tool for Zoho will come across the alternatives page.

The Product, Category & Alternatives Hierarchy

You already know that startups could directly submit the details about their tool on RT. So, we already had a bulk of data on 2500+ products on RT!

Product Page

Once the product is approved, this basic data appears directly on its "product" page on RT. Let me explain with an example:

  1. Product ➝ Flexiple
  2. Product Page ➝ programmatic seo
  3. URL structure ➝
    Since Flexiple is a Freelance Hiring Platform, the product will basically come under the "Hiring Remote Talent" category.
  4. Category ➝ Hiring Remote Talent

Apart from this, the page contains the product's logo, a short description, "When to use sections", all the social media links, pricing models, etc.

Category Page

Now, on RT we have a total of 52 such products under the "Hiring Remote Talent" category. All these 52 products have their individual product pages.

But, since they fall under the same category, we have a separate "Category" page for them. The page looks something like this.

programmatic seo

These category pages are basically listicles that list all the 52 products under this category.

URL Structure ➝

Alternatives Page

Now, to target the alternatives type search query, each of these 52 pages has its own alternatives page.

programmatic seo

So, Flexiple's alternatives page will list all products similar to Flexiple in the remote hiring category. We compute this similarity programmatically using a simple formula that uses tag-based matching.

All the other 51 products will have their own page.

URL structure =

So, finally, for a single category, we get the count:

  • Product = 52 pages
  • Category = 1 page
  • Alternatives = 52 pages

So, what is Programmatic SEO?

Now that you know our strategy for creating automated "alternatives" and "category" pages, let's understand in general what Programmatic SEO is.

Programmatic SEO is a strategy where you use the data you have, to create hundreds of pages automatically.

The goal with these automated pages is simple - optimize them as you would do for a blog so they organically rank for the target Google search query!

So, basically, in this strategy, we have 2 major components:

  1. The Data — this is the main data that can be manually created or sourced (details about the products, in the case of RT)
  2. The Automated Pages — these pages are automatically generated using parts of that data to answer a particular search query (alternatives and category pages)

The automated pages end up picking content from the same data pool and organizing them into different combinations. So, ultimately, we can generate hundreds of such pages targeting a host of different keywords.

But, how do you implement this strategy?

Ultimately, the final blueprint of this strategy can be very different for your startup compared to our startup. So, how exactly can you go about creating your own personalized plan?

Well, all you have to do is follow these 5 steps!

1) Search for Target Terms (Keyword Research)

The first step is to find what your target users are searching for on Google.

Once you have that information, you can perform keyword research and figure out the type of automated pages based on different intent buckets.

A simple example of this is Zapiers App Integration pages.

Basically, Zapier has created these automatically generated app integration pages that target keywords of the type "app1 + app2 integration".

Pro Tip ➝ You can also research the types of pages your competitors have created to figure out your target terms!

2) Collect or Source Data

The second step is to get the basic data. You can either source the data from your users (like we did) or you can manually add this data (like Zapier does).

3) Create a Template

Now, all our alternatives and category pages follow a very simple, common template. The template basically includes all the main HTML elements like H1, H2, meta...

Apart from this, since our pages are essentially listicles, there is a set layout where the information for all the other tools appears.

4) Optimize these pages

Our ultimate goal is for these pages to rank for particular search queries. Now, during step 1 we should already have a set of target keywords.

In this step, all you have to do is infuse these keywords naturally within the text. You'll, of course, have to add the keywords to the URL (slug), Meta description, H1, H2, alt tags, etc.

5) Add Internal Links

Finally, no good SEO strategy can do without the step of internal linking. So, we should ideally internally link all these pages so the SEO juice flows throughout the structure.

The power of Programmatic SEO!

Now, here's a million-dollar question — why exactly should you implement this strategy? Well, there are a couple of reasons:

  1. Implementing Programmatic SEO is comparatively simple. Your efforts are limited to the 5 steps given above, apart from that the content for hundreds of these pages is populated automatically.
  2. These pages can target very specific long-tail keywords. These keywords have a very low search volume. But, since the total number of these pages is so high, cumulatively they manage to drive enough traffic.
  3. Finally, they target keywords with very high traffic value. That's because the keywords are extremely specific so they drive relevant traffic, generating a higher conversion rate!

On Remote Tools, from the trinity of the product, category, and alternatives pages, we drive traffic of ~50K+ each month. That's an inflow of fifty thousand high intent, high conversion users!

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Amazon-backed BankBazaar is one of the rare startups that have stood the test of time! Founded in 2008, during the financial crisis, this fintech company now makes INR 156 crores in revenue.

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There are 4 input items that you can enter - bank name, state, district and the branch. The URL changes to the specific input item it changes to. This allows them to rank for a range of different keywords depending on the 4 inputs.

This is a simple programmatic SEO strategy that relies on a database and creates thousands of different pages. So, BankBazaar doesn't have to work on creating each individual page, just filling the database content. It's that simple!

BookMyShow's SEO strategy to make 88.9M monthly traffic!

BookMyShow is an online ticket booking website. Over 66% of total users that arrive on BookMyShow come from Google. This all thanks to their SEO strategy. So, let's learn about it!

BookMyShow gets over 88.9M monthly traffic and ranks for 2.6M keywords. Their top subfolders are:
- — 32.6M
- — 5.3M

The "buytickets" subfolder pages rank for keywords like "rrr showtimes", "kgf chapter 2 ticket bookings". Basically, search queries with the intent of "purchasing" or buying tickets.

Whereas the "explore" subfolder ranks for more general, "explorative" keywords like "movies playing", "hindi movies near me", etc.

But, BookMyShow's backbone are the "city" subfolders. You see, BookMyShow's website is divided into cities. And, inside these cities, you can browse through different movies and theatres.

Here's what the structure looks like:
City ➝ Movies ➝ Movies landing page ➝ Book tickets
City ➝ Theatre ➝ List of movies ➝ Book tickets
Once you choose the movie you want to see and the theatre, you land on a specific page. On this page, you can book the ticket.

Suppose you search "movies in bengaluru", since your query is exploratory type, you'll land on the page:
URL structure ➝ /explore/home/bengalur

Now on this page, suppose you click on the movie Thor. Now, you'll land on the "movie" page in the "bengaluru" city subfolder
URL structure ➝ /bengaluru/movies/thor-love-and-thunder/ET0030240

If you click on the "Book tickets" button, you'll land on this page in the buytickets subfolder
URL structure ➝ /buytickets/thor-love-and-thunder-bengaluru/movie-bang-ET00331601-MT/20220707

In the above example, you can see that BookMyShow cleverly takes a user from the "exploratory" stage to the "purchasing" buytickets stage!

Its subfolders are designed such that each ranks for specific search intent.

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Put simply, they've implemented the basics of SEO flawlessly.

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MakeMyTrip is a BEAST at SEO!

- $303M revenue in FY22,
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- 34M SEO users each month!

Their top subfolders are:
-/hotels - 8.7M
- /railways - 4.5M
- /flights - 3M
- /bus-tickets - 1.2M

Let's learn how these subfolders bring so much traffic!

Let's take the example of the "Hotels" bucket. The main page of this bucket basically has a search bar tool. All you have to do is enter the details and you'll be shown a bunch of different hotel options. When you arrive on the listicle page, you'll find some filters.

3) These include filters like:
- Beachfront hotels
- North Goa
- Price filters
- 5/4/3 star hotels

Now, what's really cool is that some of these filters have a unique URL that targets a very specific keyword. For example, these keywords can be:
- 5-star hotels in goa
- hotels with swimming pools
- cheap hotels in Mumbai

So, when a user enters a very specific search query, like "hotels in south goa with swimming pool", the MMT page appears at the top.
You will see that both the filters are already selected!
This feature of creating "unique URLs" allows MMT to rank for long-tail keywords.